How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar Power in Kentucky
Coal may have been the bedrock of Kentucky’s past, but the future of the state’s energy may be just a little bit more diverse. Solar power is coming to the Bluegrass State, in a big way.
Particularly, residents in rural parts of the state, where natural gas pipelines are few and far between, stand to benefit enormously by installing solar panels in their homes. Households that can provide a majority of their own power without relying on external fuel sources perfectly exhibit the self-reliance and tenacity for which Kentuckians are renowned—and they’ll save money that would have otherwise gone to propane and heating oil refills. Just how much money, you ask? That can depend on several different factors. Let’s jump in and take an in-depth look at residential solar installations in Kentucky.
Solar Productivity in Kentucky
In 2006, when the National Renewable Energy Laboratory examined various states’ energy productivity and ranked them accordingly, they placed Kentucky 18th in the nation for solar potential. That’s because ample sun hours—particularly in the summer months—mean that solar installations in this area produce an average 4.5 to 5 kilowatt hours a day, on par with northern parts of Alabama and Mississippi. That makes Kentucky solar power a real contender among the southern states—and it means that individual homes that choose to install solar panels on their home will find a generous portion of their electricity bills can be covered by the power they generate.
Kentucky’s Solar Popularity
Solar power may not exactly have come of age in Kentucky, but a number of solar installations in the state demonstrate residents’ budding interest in alternative energy. Of note among these is a community solar farm run by Berea Utilities. Residents of Berea can lease one of the 250-watt solar panels on the installation. Kentucky’s largest array, however, is a 10,000 panel installation in Fort Knox. It’s actually the most massive solar installation east of the Mississippi River and generates 100 percent of the power for the army base.
Despite boasting these important installations, solar power is still in a growing phase in the Bluegrass State, as it is in most areas in the US. There are only 9.5 megawatts of solar capacity installed in the state, according to industry estimates—however, about a tenth of these installations were added just in 2014 alone. If these trends continue, you can expect solar power to become big business in the next decade, especially as solar panels become more efficient and affordable.
Average Kentucky Residential Electricity Use and Cost
Lucky you, Kentuckians—you get off a little easier than the rest of the nation when it comes to average electricity costs. In fact, about 25 percent less—Kentucky residents shell out a mere 9 cents for every kilowatt of power they consume, while the national average is closer to 12 cents a kilowatt. A high percentage of houses here use natural gas to power their interiors, which is likely the reason for the low cost—but increasingly, residents are also being drawn to alternative sources of energy that will make them more self-reliant; namely, solar power. That’s a good thing, because energy consumption in Kentucky’s residential sector has nearly doubled in the past thirty years, rising up from 50,070 billion Btus consumed throughout the year of 1984 to nearly 100,000 billion Btus in 2014. That trend is in step with consumption levels throughout the rest of the US, as well. In most of the nation, finding an alternative energy source is paramount.
Installing Solar in Kentucky
If you do decide to opt for your own solar installation on your rooftop, you won’t have to go very far to find a qualified installer. A handful of companies operate throughout Kentucky, mostly based out of more heavily populated areas, like outside of Bowling Green, Louisville, and Lexington. You’ll have to use a local installer, however—large solar providers like Sungevity and SolarCity do not operate in Kentucky. But as solar gains popularity, you can expect to see a wider and wider range of installation offerings in your area.
Kentucky State Solar Support
Kentucky’s government is clearly aware of the benefits awaiting them through energy independence, and has demonstrated their enthusiastic support for renewable power by passing a number of bills making it easier and more affordable for residents and particularly, corporations and public organizations, to install solar panels on their premises. This has resulted in some massive commercial installations, but so far, residential solar power has been lagging. That may be set to change soon, however, in April 2016, Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities unveiled plans to create the largest solar power plant in Kentucky’s history. The massive 46,000-panel site that will generate enough electricity to power roughly 1,500 homes in the Mercer county area. Large initiatives like this are a clear signal that the state government—and local utilities—are on board for a shift in energy generation.
State Solar Incentives in Kentucky
To encourage residents to make the switch to solar power, Kentucky offers several incentives that make purchasing and maintaining equipment more affordable and attractive. These include the following programs:
Net Metering: Kentucky residents can take advantage of the state’s net metering program, a popular incentive that meters residents energy consumption against the power they return to the grid. Excess credits can be carried over indefinitely on customer’s utility bills.
Renewable Energy Tax Credit: State law provides residents who choose to install solar panels on their homes an income tax credit worth $3 for every watt their system’s capacity is rated, with a $500 maximum incentive. Solar space heaters and solar water heaters are also eligible—residents may receive up to 30 percent of the cost of the system, up to $500. To qualify, complete form 5695-K when you file your state income taxes.
Additionally, Kentucky residents who choose to install solar panels on their homes also have the opportunity to collect a national tax incentive as well. The Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit returns taxpayers who purchase and install solar panels on their homes a generous 30 percent of the price of their system. To qualify, complete IRS form 5695 with your federal income taxes.
Kentucky Local Solar Incentives
Beyond federal and statewide incentives, there are a few regional offerings available to residents in certain parts of the state. These include the following programs:
Tennessee Valley Authority Green Power Providers Program: Residents serviced by TVA are eligible for the utility’s green power program, which returns solar power providers $1,000 upon installation, and guarantees that the utility will buy 100 percent of the energy generated from residential solar arrays for 20 years, at the retail rate plus 2 cents for every kilowatt hour returned to the grid, making it a very generous incentive indeed.
Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance Residential Loan Program: Households in Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties may be eligible for a low-interest loan program that provides money to residents for the purchase and installation of renewable equipment on their homes. The interest rate is 6.99 percent for solar installations; however, the residents must perform an energy audit on their home to receive this rate. There is a maximum loan amount of $20,000. Visit the program’s site for more information.